How Much Does a Registered Agent Actually Cost?


How Much Does a Registered Agent Actually Cost?

Every formal business entity in the United States must have a Registered Agent to fully comply with state law. While the term “Registered Agent” might sound like a highly specialized, expensive consultant you need to hire, it simply refers to an address where the state government sends your legal and tax correspondence.

First things first: Don’t feel intimidated by the concept. While it’s important for you to name a Registered Agent, the process for doing so is straightforward and — if done right — it won’t cost much either. With plenty of Registered Agent services available, you will find this is one of the easier boxes to check on your way toward starting your own business.

Incfile | Registered Agent

So, What Does a Registered Agent Do?

Simply put, your Registered Agent is the party you designate to receive your business’s most important mail from the state. Because official business documents from the state are often time-sensitive, your Registered Agent needs to be ready to receive your mail during normal business hours and should be able to take action when needed. This could mean simply signing for an important delivery or forwarding tax forms to your office promptly. 

Blog_Registered Agent_1

Your Registered Agent is responsible for ensuring this paperwork is delivered to the responsible party at your business promptly. Plus, a Registered Agent service should keep copies of important business documents in case the originals are destroyed or stolen.

How Much Does a Registered Agent Really Cost?

The range for services like this is a recurring annual fee between $100 and $300, which can be much more depending on the type of party you choose as your Registered Agent. Remember that the Registered Agent fee will be tax-deductible because it is associated with your business. Streamlined Registered Agent services from companies like Incfile are offered at competitive pricing, often coming with additional features.

Incfile’s Registered Agent service comes free for the first year when you register your LLC with us (and is $119 per year after that) and includes:

  • Always-available Registered Agent to receive all documents on your behalf
  • Digital dashboard where you can receive all information received for your business
  • Tailored notifications through email and text message
  • Automatic mail forwarding of all correspondence 

Some businesses may choose to designate their lawyer or accountant as their Registered Agent. However, these businesses can often charge a high recurring fee for the service, much higher than what online services are charging. Lawyers will be taking on more risk as a designated Registered Agent and will often use that to justify charging more.

Who Can I Choose As My Registered Agent?

While it is required by law for every LLC to designate a Registered Agent, there are options for the type of Registered Agent companies choose. Some designate a third-party business, others name their lawyer or accountant and still, others name themselves as their Registered Agent. However, naming yourself as your Registered Agent is not recommended for multiple reasons — see more on that below.

Using a Registered Agent service is often a top choice for small business owners since they can delegate the responsibility to a credible third party. Whichever path you choose, there are a few requirements.

Blog_Registered Agent_2_v6Can I Designate Myself as a Registered Agent?

Yes, you can designate yourself as a Registered Agent. While it might seem like the easiest way to move forward, it is not always the wisest choice. Privacy and the ability to reply promptly to time-sensitive documents are the two biggest concerns when it comes to the risks of being your own Registered Agent.

Reasons you should not serve as your own Registered Agent:

  1. Privacy. Your address will become public record. And that means people who sue your business will know where you live or do business.
  2. Junk mail. Once your address is listed publicly, you will get a ton of mailers.
  3. Discretion. If you have a business where employees work, you may want to keep any legal documents that are delivered separate from their workplace.
  4. Customer service. If you have a business where customers come in, you may not want them to be privy to your legal situations.
  5. Need to keep your address current. The address for your Registered Agent must remain current. If you work from home and move often, you will need to notify the state of your address changes, which can be a lengthy process. The state often charges a fee every time you update your address, too.
  6. Availability during office hours. You will need to be open during regular business hours to receive important legal or tax documents. If your business is closed Mondays or if you take vacations from your home business, this will be a concern.
  7. Multiple states. You need to have a Registered Agent present in every state you do business in. Acting as your own agent won't allow you to do this.

What If I Don’t Have a Registered Agent?

Having a Registered Agent is the law. Every state requires it and if you do not designate a Registered Agent, you will face fines and possibly be forced to dissolve your business. But, there are additional benefits beyond compliance to designating a Registered Agent.

Having a Registered Agent can be a benefit to your business’s operations. This entity will receive your most time-sensitive documents and if you choose the right party, they can help to make sure you respond promptly and keep you on task and organized. Having an agent keeps your business’s brand and image looking sharp and professional. 

What’s the Difference Between a Registered Agent and a Virtual Mail Service?

A virtual mail service can be very handy for some businesses, especially those that operate out of a home. This service provides a physical street address at a remote location. This can serve as your company’s business address even if you don’t operate there. Many virtual mailing services will sort your mail and packages, even scanning mail and sending you copies and receipt notifications via email or text. This differs from a Registered Agent because the Registered Agent only receives your official government documents and legal documents from the state.

What Should I Do If I Am Operating Outside of My Home State?

Once you start doing business outside of the state, you’re going to need a Registered Agent in that state, too. You’ll need to file forms with the new state government to do business in that state, pay your fees and designate a new Registered Agent. Filing for foreign qualification to do business out of state with Incfile allows you to order a Registered Agent in your new state immediately upon filing the paperwork. (Once you start doing business out of the state, you’re considered doing “foreign” business, even though it’s technically in the same country.) 

When you go with a service like the Registered Agent service from Incfile, you’ll be covered in terms of prompt handling of time-sensitive documents, discretion and privacy, and keeping up with legal compliance in all 50 states. When you start your own business, it’s important to have the resources and support set up from the beginning to enable you to grow as big as you want to. 

Get Our Registered Agent Service Subscription. Always Free for the First Year and $119 Thereafter.

Paper List

Like What You're Reading?

Get fresh monthly tips to start & grow your LLC.

Related Articles

  • 32 Side Hustles from Home That Pay More Than $100 an Hour
  • 15 Items You Can Easily Flip for $100-$5,000 in Profit a Month
  • A Giant List of Self-Employment Ideas
  • 11 Out-of-the-Box Side Hustles for Women to Make an Extra $1,000 a Month
  • How to Pay Yourself as an LLC Owner
  • What Is an LLC? Super-Simplified Infographic
  • If You're Not a U.S. Citizen, Can You Get an EIN for Your Business?
  • So You Moved? Follow This Guide to Moving Your LLC to Another State
  • Understanding DBAs and How They May Be Beneficial to Your Small Business
  • Are Non-U.S. Residents Allowed to Own a Corporation or LLC?
  • 15 U.S. States with the Lowest State Fee to Start a Business Today
  • Need a Physical Address for Your Business?
  • How to Create and File an LLC for Free
  • LLC vs. S Corp: Which Is Right for Your Business?
  • 5 Virtual Address Services for Your Small Business
  • S Corp vs. C Corp: Differences and Benefits of Each
  • Series LLC vs. LLC: Which One Do You Need?
  • ​Do LLCs Get a 1099 During Tax Time?
  • 7 Home Business Ideas That Double as Tax Write-Offs
  • PLLC vs. LLC: What You Need to Know